It was an afternoon to forget for the Dens Park faithful who were to witness yet another defeat at home. St Johnstone were worthy winners and won’t find an easier three points all this season.
A Jordon Piggott own goal on the youngsters debut put the Saints in the lead and that was followed by a double from Chris Kane which came either side of a Blair Alston goal.
At the final whistle, a small scuffle broke out between the Dundee manager as he was passing the St Johnstone bench which McCann described as “handbags.”
McCann said: "The spat at the end, I'm just a bit fired up," he said. "I thought I was controlled during the match but I've gone over and words were exchanged and one of their players has put their hand on me and wouldn't let go.
"I asked him to let go and he wouldn't. It took me a wee bit of time to calm down and walk away.
"But when somebody puts their hands on you and you ask them to remove them and they don't, it is hard to just back off.
"I put my hands up to grab Zander to say get his hands off me. Then I retracted them because I had started to regain my composure.
"There was no punch, no slap or anything like that though."
McCann also blasted the players for their inept performance which has seen the club without a home win all year and staring right into the face of a battle to stay out of the bottom two.
"I'm ashamed of the performance. I'm embarrassed by it. There is nothing left to say that wasn't said in the dressing room. That will remain in the dressing room, hopefully.
"I can only apologise to the fans because that doesn't sit well with me and hopefully it doesn't sit well with the players. We were outfought and outplayed, a weak performance.
"The goals we have lost today are embarrassing. It's basics and schoolboy defending and we have no excuses for it. I'm furious and to be honest I'm actually angry at my own players that they didn't show anger on the pitch. That's embarrassing.
"I want aggression on the pitch and some sort of show that they are not accepting of that type of performance and result and I didn't see it. That from a group of players is not acceptable and I will not tolerate it."
It was Ice Hockey that brought him to Dundee initially. A failed joint venture with former Perth Panthers player Fraser McCall had them looking at the Dundee Tigers but he would try to go it alone and purchase shares. After failing to attract local Government support and a previous deal with William Low for £1.9 million being agreed on the old Dundee Ice Rink, his plans and vision were dead in the water.
His attention soon turned to Dundee FC.
One rumour I heard that bought the club to his attention was that he had been driving past Dens Park one day, he saw then owner Angus Cook’s Rolls-Royce parked outside and that was that.
Nonetheless, Dixon was appointed to the board in December and soon found himself as owner of the club in January 1992 when he purchased 71per cent of the club’s stock. He claimed that the club was only a few hours from going bust and upon his arrival at Dens Park, was met by creditors from the Bank of Scotland who were ready to wind Dundee FC up.
“When I walked through the doors for the first time, I was met by three bankers,” explained Dixon.
“They said enough was enough and they were calling in the receiver. However, I talked to them and they agreed to accept a cheque for a five-figure sum and wait until it cleared before doing anything else.”
His mother was born to Scots-immigrant parents in Canada and he cities his Grandmother’s pride in her roots as the reason for buying the club.
“She's the one who got me into Dundee,'' he revealed in an interview with the Herald in 1995.
“She lived to be a ripe old age and by then I was a businessman of some repute and had some money. She asked me if I ever got the chance to do something for the old country. That's what got me started at Dundee.''
The following month after taking the reins, the new owner laid out his vision for the future in an Extraordinary Meeting. One of the main talking points was a new share issues and his plans to redevelop Dens Park – which will "tower over the playing surface like a colossus."
£8 million was to be spend on a new stand to replace the Derry/South Enclosure and in it would see an ice-rink and conference centre along with the greyhound racing making a comeback. The new stand would seat 8,500 spectators and once complete, both area behind the goal would also be redeveloped to bring the capacity to 25,000 with it being lowered later to 20,500 after seating was added. Considering the clubs average attendance was just under 4,000, it was very optimistic.
In his first few years, Dundee splashed the cash as they signed Jim Leighton (£200,000), Dusan Vrto (£200,000), Morten Wieghorst (£225,000 which was Dixon’s own money and a then club record fee) and Piotr Czachowski and Dariusz Adamczuck (for a fee which was reported to be £500,000 each but was later said to be less than half that). The First Division title was won along with a place in the top league and the Main Stand was given a makeover as the foundations for the greyhound track were set up.
Unfortunately, Dundee would suffer two relegations in four seasons and any plans for future stadium development were cancelled. The stand with a built-in ice-rink was no more. The share issue he had hoped to raise serious money from failed to grab the supporters’ attention. A debt to the Royal Bank of Scotland would be paid from Dixon’s personal fund but the debt amount of £570,000 would now be repayable to himself - albeit it was interest-free.
With it now becoming quite apparent that there was not a lot of money to be made in Dundee and indeed Scottish football, Dixon’s attention waned.
Prior to Dundee’s Coca Cola League Cup Semi Final in 1995 against Airdrie, Dixon had not been seen on this side of the Atlantic for over a year and had left the club in the hands of the unpaid board, which consisted of local businessmen. Things had gotten so bad under his leadership that Jim Duffy, who was manager at the time, recalled the chairman telling him that, “the key was in the door” if they did not reach the final. The late Malcolm Reid also backed up those claims by saying, “If we lost, I was coming to Dens in the morning, locking all the doors and putting the keys through the letter box.”
Dundee did of course win the match and make the final which the absent chairman made the trip over to see. But his visit in November 1995, according to The Scotsman, had the chairman demanding the sale of Morten Wieghorst to pay off some of his debt he had acquired elsewhere. The sale of the Danish international wasn’t the only time directors saw little money end up at the club from the sale of players. Neil McCann and Jim Hamilton headed to the exit door, no doubt at the demand of Dixon, with little of the money going back into the playing resources while the sale of Lee Power and Paul Tosh to Hibs had Jim Duffy directly negotiating with Dixon, with the current board in Dundee unaware of the events.
In an farewell letter to Dundee fans in one the matchday programme on the 9th December, Dixon wrote about his decision to sell the club and how not only had he gotten the club on a sound financial footing, he was also not a believer in buying your way to the top. He set up a timescale and that was now up so it was time for him to move on.
The funny thing about this letter is when he first addressed the fans in Edinburgh back in 1992, he said, “We aren’t interested in 8th or 2nd place in the Premier League, we want to be challenging for top spot." He left with Dundee languishing in the old First Division.
Interestingly, he also mentioned in his letter that he felt that Dundee and our rivals Dundee United should have merged and he had spent three years trying to make this happen. How much truth there is to this is another matter.
He would drop the asking price of the club to £1.7 million at the tail end of 1996 with the club owing money to him to the tune of just over a million. Dixon’s time at Dens and indeed in Scotland was drawing to a close. He set foot on Scottish soil for the first and last time since the League Cup Final when he flew back in March 1997. On his arrival, Dixon said ''I will be in Scotland until almost the end of the season. During that time, I expect my term as chairman to come to an end.” For once he stayed true to his word and he had resigned his directorship leaving Malcolm Reid as acting chairman just over a month later.
There had been interest in the club from two local sources. Property tycoon Michael Johnston had tabled a £1.2 million bid to buy the club but withdrew the offer after the sale of Power and Tosh, declaring himself angry at the situation. This left Peter and Jimmy Marr, who Dixon described as having all the personal qualities he felt were important to take over Dundee as he didn’t want to return a year later and discover houses where Dens used to be. This was no doubt a dig at Johnston, who he never regarded as a serious contender.
The Marrs never publicly acknowledged their desire to buy the club until 25th March 1997 with the comment, “Things have certainly gone on between us, but that is all I am prepared to say at the moment”. But they had already made a formal written offer of £1.3 million to buy the club and repay Dixon’s debt a month earlier. They would then have to wait until 17th June before they could end Dixon’s mostly absent reign by buying the club for £1.3 million. The Marr's also noted after they had takeover the club that almost £1 million had been miss-directed on the greyhound facilities.
Ex owner Angus Cook said after the sale, "Mr Dixon was promised a ticker tape welcome and he was given that. All he has delivered is sheriff officers, writs and debts."
Dixon seemed to think his time at Dens was a success when we all knew too well it was an absolute disaster. It could have, and nearly did on a few occasions, kill the club.
Jim Duffy used to pay for washing powder to clean the players’ gear out of his own pocket. If that was the sound financial footing that Dixon claimed to have left the club in then I shudder to think of the state of any of his other businesses. The club lived hand to mouth for many a year.
Ron Dixon died in March 2000 but that still didn't stop his name causing controversy. Some suggest that he faked his own death. His nickname "Vancouver Warlord" implied connections with the Mafia.
Even while he was alive and at Dens, his opponents argued that Ron Dixon wasn’t his real name and he was in fact called Barry Nowakowski. He labelled these accusations as “pure bullshit” and that if “You promise to buy me six Glenfiddichs and a nice steak, I'll show you my birth certificate. It shows Ronald Barry Noble Dixon.”
So for the people that didn't know who Ron Dixon was, you do now….if that was even his real name.
Dundee have not won at home in their last four games while St Johnstone are winless in their last five away matches.
We caught up with St Johnstone 1884 to gather his thoughts on his team at this moment.
It’s not been the best of seasons for St Johnstone compared to the previous years. What do you put this down to?
I don't think it's any one thing and there is probably a collective responsibility needing to be taken. The chairman maybe didn't support the manager enough in the summer but Tommy Wright has maybe at times chopped and changed too much and at others remained too loyal to some players. Quite a few of the players have had poor seasons as well and that's probably been the main contributing factor.
I know every team will bemoan bad luck but we've endured a fair bit this season, with poor refereeing decisions - including another one for the penalty at Kilmarnock on Wednesday - and a string on injuries. We are likely to be without 8 players for the game on Saturday.
I was a little surprised at the release of Paul Paton in the January window. How did this go down with the fans when the news came out? Also, how did you rate your clubs activity in that window?
I don't think anyone saw the Paton decision coming. He wasn't the best player in the squad but had played a lot this season and his replacements (Willock and Williams) were untested loans from England, neither of whom have made much impact yet. Our other signing was the prolific David McMillan from Ireland but the fact he got injured 20 minutes into his debut can sum up the way our season is going. January is a difficult month to recruit in and it's still hard to say whether we are better off or not a month down the line.
There has been a few whispers, especially after Paton’s release, in Dundee that Tommy Wright had lost some of the dressing room. Has there been any talk of this in Perth has it just been a case of some fans up to mischief?
I think it would be unwise for any player to go against Tommy Wright, there will only be one winner there! He'll be Saints manager for the foreseeable future and I think any player who wasn't pulling their weight would be shown the door pretty quickly. I don't think that was the case with Paton though.
Wednesday nights defeat to Kilmarnock more of less ended the Saints top 6 hopes. How do you see your season finishing? Will it be a nervy end, battling to get away from the play-off spot or do you see your team finish near the top half of the bottom 6? Or is it so tight right now, anything can happen?
Top six hasn't been realistic for a while now, we just aren't consistent enough. I think any of the bottom five could go down and the focus for Saints should be ensuring they are at least 10th, rather than chasing what would be a pretty meaningless 7th place. We are in a fight with five others but everyone is still punching at the moment. I wouldn't be surprised at any outcome!
Our last clash seen Dundee win 2-0 against 10-men in Perth but despite the player advantage for most of the game, St Johnstone had a few chances to draw level. What was your thoughts on that game?
Dundee started the game much better than Saints - a recurring theme - and we could arguably have been down to nine men. We did rally in the second half but can have no real complaints at the final result. Dundee seem to save their best performances for these games. Almost like it's a derby!
So looking ahead to Saturday, both clubs have played the same number of matches but a win would be massive for both. Dundee haven’t won at home in four matches, only finding the net once while St Johnstones form away from home has seen a run of five matches also without a win with one goal. Something has to give, what’s your predictions?
Saints owe the fans a performance at Dens Park following a run of poor results in Dundee but we have to start the game better than we have previously to have any chance. If we let Dundee get on the front foot and ahead, it could be a long afternoon. It's hard to have much confidence unfortunately, especially with the injury list, and I'd certainly take a point if offered.
We continue our programmes with the past with our last game in the European Cup that came at Dens Park in a 1-0 victory over AC Milan on the 1st May, 1962.
The scene was set but the it was to be an uphill battle for Dundee in this Semi-Final 2nd leg after AC Milan had beat us 5-1 at the San Siro. Alan Cousin got our goal in that tie, becoming the first British player to score at the Italian venue.
It was later revealed that the referee for the tie in Milan, Vincente Caballero, was found guilty of being wined, dined and accepting lavish gifts from the AC officials and was banned from officiating any other games. Also, the Italian press situated their selves behind the Dundee goal and every time Bert Slater went for the ball, the camera flashes were blinding him.
So, it was onto the second leg at Dens Park with 38,000 fans descending onto to Dens with the hope that their club could stage an unlikely comeback.
The first half was constantly interrupted for fouls being committed but the Dee would take the lead before half time when Alan Gilzean headed home from a Gordon Smith cross.
This was Gilzean’s ninth goal in this competition and to this day, remains the clubs top goal scorer in all European competitions
There would be no more goals in the second half and despite winning the tie 1-0, Dundee would exit the competition 5-2 on aggregate. Alan Gilzean would also be sent off when after becoming frustrated by the Italians rough tactics, lashed out with minutes to go.
It was the end of Dundee’s European adventure and despite being disappointed with missing out on reaching the final at Wembley, the team had not only done their city proud, but also Scotland.
The teams that night were:
Dundee: Slater, Hamilton, Seith, Stuart, Ure, Penman, Smith, Wishart, Cousin, Gilzean, Houston
AC Milan: Ghezzi, Benítez, Maldini, Trebbi, Rivera, Altafini, Barison, Mora, Pivatelli
I know the obvious answer. A winning side on the pitch that plays pretty, flowing football that thrills the fans and sends them home happy. That’s the dream and for the foreseeable future, it will no doubt remain just that, a dream.
I suspect that the bulk of the 3500 fans that purchase season tickets do so like a creature of habit and I include myself in that group. That’s all fine and dandy but how do the club build on that, especially with attracting new younger fans that will become the next generation of Dundee.
Firstly, I’ll look at any incentives the club could be looking at as ‘extras’ with purchasing a season ticket.
There’s lots that can be explored by the club. We could extend the early bird period, maybe run competitions at the end of every week where five people who have purchased tickets receive a gift such as vouchers for the club shop, a home or away shirt, DEETV subscription or hospitality. Each person that wins could be invited to Dens to collect their prize and meet the players and management. Then for the reminder of the season, the same can be done at the end of every month.
All these ideas could be advertised with fans believing they might potentially get more for their money if their name is drawn out the hat. It won’t add a 1000 more fans onto the gate but it’s a step in the right direction and would look like they are thinking of fans.
Who remembers a few years back when our season tickets came with offers such as attending certain Dundee Stars games throughout their season along with special food offers for the DCA, The Fort etc? Could this be used again and more importantly, could they add more interest?
The club can also up their PR game, something that I feel they lack massively. Compared to some of the clubs around us, I feel the publicity for selling this seasons tickets was below par and even for half season tickets, any mention seemed sporadic.
They should be mentioning this every day from the day they go on sale to the very last day. They have no right to do this but would reaching out to unofficial sites such as The Dark Blues and asking them to advertise season tickets relentlessly be such a bad thing? This site is the place for Dundee fans to visit and would be a fantastic source for getting free advertisement.
Go the whole hog. Create video packages, have various players giving interviews while plugging season tickets, speak about the greats of yesteryear to create a sense of nostalgia, pull at the heart strings with emotional blackmail in the hope of selling a few more books. Have the owners, managers and even ask the fans to come out speaking about their hopes for the season. Interact as much as possible and make it feel special.
Add any of these along with holding events in the Bobby Cox concourse or outside it if the weather permits during match days, which could attract more families who will see it not just as a game of football but more of a day out that they look forward to.
Finally let's speak about the pricing of the overall product.
For a start, the pricing of season tickets and Pay at the Gate (PATG) are far too expensive for a city like Dundee. It’s no secret that poverty is a problem in this city and at £385 a pop to buy an adult season ticket, that price far outstretches most people’s budget. There is the finance option but who’s to say that everyone has the credit score to be accepted. That leaves the old PATG
Unfortunately, the PATG price tends to creep up each year to the point that I applaud any fan who can afford to walk up to Dens and pay either £24 for a category B game against Hamilton or £26 for a category A against Celtic.
For me, the season ticket prices should be vastly lower than £385. Would a more economical price of £300 see an upsurge in sales? Would saying ‘£20 is plenty’ see more fans deciding to pay on the day? There’s no guarantee these prices would attract more fans back but until we at least try to do something, I fear we will only see smaller crowds as the years roll by.
Comparing our prices for the 2014/15 season an early bird renewal for an adult ticket would have set you back £300 while a new customer would have to pay £320. At the end of the early bird period it would then cost £340. Now you are between £340 and £360, depending on what early bird period you buy your ticket, and then a whopping £385 which is the normal sale price.
The U18's price hasn't jumped much, the same as the price of an U12 ticket but for an OAP, the price for a normal ticket has jumped from £170 to £265. I'm sorry but that's a ridiculous and unnecessary price hike.
I applaud the board for backing our managers with the aim of reaching the top six in the Premiership and ploughing ahead with their ambitious stadium plans up at Camperdown but I really get the feeling that they are out of touch when it comes to what we fans can afford to attend football in this city.
Credit where credit is due, they offered kids tickets for just £1 when purchased with an adult season ticket this year and that was fantastic and hopefully that continues on for the many moons to come. They have also done well with the Bobby Cox family ticket but other than that, it feels like they are trying to get the as much cash out of the paying adult.
We all want a competitive side challenging on the pitch but firstly and most importantly, we need to make attending Dens Park more affordable for fans old and new.